Published: 20th July 2019
Why President Kalam was an extraordinary teacher and every student's role model
Every time, he would visit a school or a college, thousands of people would gather in the auditorium just to listen to his motivational words
While many remember A P J Abdul Kalam as People's President, The Missile Man of India and other names, youngsters and children fondly remember him as one of the best teachers. Kalam knew that teachers play an important role in shaping the future of children. Because his teacher Siva Subramania Iyer was the one who showed Kalam how birds fly. And this is what determined Kalam's career where he went ahead to become the best missile engineer.
Every time, he would visit a school or a college, thousands of people would gather in the auditorium just to listen to his motivational words. That was the fame and madness among people for him. Unlike the strict teachers in the classroom, he spoke to them as if he was a friend. He knew that the youth have fewer biases about society and therefore one can motivate them easily in achieving bigger goals. It so happened that in the Jaipur Literature Festival 2015, Kalam was invited to address the audience. And who would not like to watch and listen to this humble missile man?. As usual, people gathered in huge numbers and a stampede like the situation was created. Police had to arrive at the spot to control the crowd. Probably, even the sessions of famous poets and authors could not attract this huge crowd.
Not just limited to teaching, he even launched a programme called "What Can I Give? for youngsters in 2012. Through this programme, he wanted youngsters to fight corruption. He even asked them to give ideas to fight corruption and also visit his website called whatcanigive.com.
Kalam was an extraordinary teacher
Narsimha Roddam met him for the first time in 1962 and worked with him in several places in different capacities for more than 40 years. He says, "Though Kalam was not a professional teacher, he was an extraordinary teacher to all the kids. He considered education as a key factor in shaping the future of the nation and children as well. He believed that it can help youngsters to be confident and build their personality. I still remember when Satellite Launch Vehicle-3 (SLV-3) was conceptualised and Kalam was leading it. Many people in the scientific community were sceptical of this young man as he did not have a masters degree or a PhD. But it was Satish Dhawan, an aerospace engineer and his team who were confident of Kalam. It is because he had delivered everything he promised. When SLV-III was launched finally, the team proved that a country like India can also launch satellites successfully."
The Missile Man: Dr A P K Abdul Kalam's painting gifted to Bengaluru's IISc (Pic: Rashmi Patil)
He further adds, "After his tenure got over and he retired from the service, he wanted to serve in the Indian Institute of Science. But we could not find him a suitable position in this institute." Kalam visited the IISc on various occasions. He even inaugurated The Centre of Excellence in High-Speed Aerodynamics in November 2011. His name remains etched on one of the boards in IISc now. Apart from all this, the institute also possesses Kalam's gift which was given to them after he retired. A huge painting of Kalam with that humble smile on his face appears as if he is real. It is painted by an artist M G Kammar and was presented to the missile man by the Visvesraya Technological University.
Places where he worked as a visiting lecturer or a guest faculty
- Kalam served as the visiting professor at Indian Institute of Management in Shillong, Ahmedabad, Indore
- He was an honorary fellow at the IISc Bengaluru
- He served as the Chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram
- He also served as the guest faculty in the Aerospace Engineering Department at Anna University in Chennai, JSS University Mysore
- He taught Information Technology at IIT Hyderabad